Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - utility range
Distinctive styling, excellent five-passenger cab, gutsy turbo-diesel
Room for improvement
Smaller tray, V6 engine could do with more response
5 Jul 2006
By CHRIS HARRIS
MITSUBISHI’S all-new Triton range boldly goes where others have only tentatively ventured by prioritising passenger comfort ahead of pragmatic light commercial values.
No other dual-cab pickup offers the interior comfort of the Triton but, in dual cab form at least, everyone else offers a bigger tray area. The new Mitsubishi dual cab takes up a bit more road space than its MK predecessor, but the tray is smaller overall than it was.
The big compensation is that, while Triton dual-cab operators might need to plan their loads more carefully, at least they have the comfort of knowing there’s a minimum one-tonne payload capacity across the board.
In dual-cab form, the ML Triton is perhaps the most civilised of all one-tonne pickups.
It’s also the most distinctively styled, and looks quite special on the road compared with the latest Toyota HiLux, Holden Rodeo and Nissan Navara.
Physically it’s quite a bit smaller than the Toyota or Nissan, but is quite close to the Rodeo dual-cab which is shorter overall, and the same width, but has a 50mm longer wheelbase. The hulking Toyota’s wheelbase is 85mm longer than the Triton but the Navara is a massive 200mm ahead of it in this dimension.
The Mitsubishi is far from a tiddler in kerb weight, and in fact is a little ahead of its competition in this area – something that is compensated for by the more generous payload. The ML Triton is heavier than the MK by around 75 to 80kg in petrol-engined form, and by 80 to 100kg in turbodiesel form.
Mitsubishi says the petrol V6 and turbodiesel four-cylinder are not only cleaner than before, but also more economical. The V6 betters all but the Holden Rodeo – which, at 12.8L/100km, it virtually equals in manual form and significantly undercuts with an identical auto figure - but the turbodiesel averages out as similarly consumptive to its major competition.
The power figures don’t stack up in a way that favours the Triton, but Mitsubishi says the actual driveability is something else again. Mitsubishi says.
On the road, the 135kW/309Nm V6 is smooth and quiet but, partly as a result of the lift in the final drive ratio, requires a bit of gearbox work to keep pace.
But 100km/h cruising figures, with the manual-gearbox engine spinning in fifth at only 2300rpm, were pretty impressive.
The 3.2-litre turbodiesel, with 118kW and 347Nm, is altogether different, definitely an oil-burner in terms of noise levels but smooth enough and far more economical in the power-sapping on-beach driving that took up a significant part of the launch programme on the deserted sands of Coffin bay near Port Lincoln in South Australia.
The Triton rides pretty well for a one-tonne pickup (the test vehicles carried about 100kg of ballast in the tray) and steers okay too, although with more than four turns from lock to lock it’s no sports pickup.
The five-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly and, although in 4x4 models the selection process is by a conventional lever rather than a button as in some of the opposition, it’s all quite easy and high-range 4x4 is available on the fly.
The power rack and pinion system offers a turning circle that has improved markedly over the previous model though, down to 11.4 metres in 4x2 form (previously 11.6), and a decent 11.8 metres for the 4x4s (12.8 before). By comparison, the similar-size Rodeo 4x4 turns in 12.6 metres.
The Triton’s disc-drum brakes (Mitsubishi claims best-in-class performance) feel reassuring, particularly the ABS system on all but the base GLX.
ABS – with electronic brakeforce distribution - is a good thing in a pickup where the load carried can vary dramatically.
The focus during the drive programme was on the dual-cab versions and that’s no surprise for this is undoubtedly the most impressive aspect of the new Triton.
As promised by Mitsubishi, the rear seat really does open up new dimensions as a comfortable, sedan-like five-seater. Even with a tall driver up front, there’s still ample legroom in the seat behind (up 60mm over the MK Triton), as well as a decently inclined backrest.
Headroom is also better, by 25mm in the front and 13mm in the back, although some of this is disappears if the sunroof option is taken up.
The main shortcoming was a lack of under-thigh support for the driver and front passenger, which is hardly alleviated by the leather-trimmed GLS’s power-adjusted driver’s seat.
The new dash looks classy indeed with its blue-lit instruments and logical control layout. The GLX-R and GLS’s central colour display, complete with external climate information and trip computer functions is particularly appreciated, although the steering wheel only adjusts vertically, reminding that this is still a light commercial after all.
The "retracting" rearmost window is a nice touch on GLX-R and GLS, and does indeed provide draft-free motoring as well as handy access to the rear.
In the end, it is this focus on cabin features and comfort that defines the new Triton.
If these things are your dual-cab pickup priority, then it’s hard to see anywhere better to go.
And, if it happens you need a full one-tonne payload capacity but are not desperate for tray space, then, in this segment, there’s definitely no other dual-cab choice.
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